Harris, WVU Cruise Past Presbyterian

MORGANTOWN – Eron Harris and Juwan Staten, who were respectively first and second in scoring in the Big 12, got their usual numbers, but a freshman named Devin Williams mastered his second double-double Friday as West Virginia pummeled Presbyterian, 88-55.

“I want to kind of challenge myself as far as double-doubles go,” Williams said. ”That’s definitely an important stat. More on the rebounding side, I just want to stay plus-10 on the rebounding side. The offense is going to come. I want to be a top-five rebounder in the Big 12.”

Harris led four Mountaineers in double figures as WVU took out Presbyterian.

Harris led all scorers with 19 points, while teammates Juwan Staten (16), Remi Dibo (14) and Williams (11) all provided fire-power. Williams, a true freshman center, pulled down a game-leading 11 rebounds for West Virginia (4-1).

“He’s been terrific. He’s starting to feel more comfortable,” said coach Bob Huggins of Williams, who scored a career-high 18 points against Duquesne and also ripped 11 rebounds against Virginia Tech. “His personality is starting to come out a little bit.”

Jordan Downing (18) was the only double-figures scorer for the Blue Hose (1-4), who have yet to beat an NCAA Division I school thus far.

The game was part of the Cancun Classic, which moves to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, on Tuesday. The Mountaineers will play Old Dominion at that juncture and then meet either Wisconsin or Saint Louis on Thursday.

It will be WVU’s first foray outside of the United States, other than an event in Puerto Rico.

Presbyterian will play Bowling Green on Tuesday.

WVU came into the game averaging 89 points per game and averaging shooting 51 percent from the field. Both those stats were 25th in the nation.

The Mountaineers, who have won three straight, did nothing to diminish those numbers. In this game, they connected on 49 percent (31 of 63) from the field, 44 percent (11 of 25) from beyond the 3-point line and 75 percent (15 of 20) from the free-throw line.

Harris, who entered the game leading the Big 12 in scoring (20.8 points per game), connected on 7 of 15 field-goal attempts and 3 of 6 3-pointers. Staten, the league’s second-leading points producer (20), hit 7 of 10 shots, handed out seven assists, and hauled down five rebounds.

Prior to Presbyterian, Staten had played 149 of 160 minutes for the Mountaineers this year. He had scored in double figures in each contest and was shooting 54.5 percent from the floor with 31 assists and only four turnovers.

Staten had one or fewer turnovers in 10 of his last 11 games dating back to last year.

He became the first player in school history to have 20-plus points and at least nine assists in back-to-back games.

Before this game, Harris was shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

The Mountaineers led the Big 12 this season in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.82) and were second in points, 3-point field goal percentage (43.5), steals (eight) and turnover margin (plus 5.25).

They continued adding onto those numbers in this first meeting between WVU and Presbyterian.

The Blue Hose mustered just 39.6 percent (19 of 48) from the floor and 35 percent (7 of 20) from beyond 3-point range.

Presbyterian scored 19 field goals, while West Virginia put in 11 3-pointers. The Blue Hose turned the ball over 19 times. The Mountaineers made eight steals.

“They really did a tremendous job of going to that 1-3-1 zone and causing us some problems,” Presbyterian coach Gregg Nibert said. “Their defense and our quick shots really took us out of the game. It’s a credit to their unbelievable defense; most importantly – and especially that 1-3-1.”

The Blue Hose trailed 20-16 with 9:41 showing in the first half, but West Virginia scored nine straight points to go ahead 29-16. That was the closest the visitors would get.

WVU is 69-3 at home against nonconference teams in the last 11 years, including 49 of 50.

The Mountaineers are 35-1 against nonconference opponents at home under Huggins.

Huggins now has 727 career victories, which puts him in 18th place on the all-time coaching list. He needs two victories to tie Norm Stewart and Jerry Tarkanian for 16th place.